By Liz, hoping the first winter storm warning of this season is a joke.
Happy last Tuesday of the year, Wicked Cozy friends! There’s a lot to celebrate today too – it’s launch day for Murder Most Finicky! What a fun way to ring in the new year, right?
I had a ton of fun writing this book, which takes Stan out of her new Frog Ledge comfort zone and plops her in the middle of a bunch of crazy celebrity chefs–one of whom is, naturally, murdered. I had a blast with Sheldon Allyn, the head of this nutty pack, and the chefs he’s tapped along the way to help build his empire. These guys range from the quintessential Italian who loves her cannoli (and I can say that, as an Italian) to the brooding, troubled hunk, to the up and coming vegan chef. They’re all a little absurd, but a lot of fun. I hope you like hanging out with them for a few hundred pages.
But back to cooking. Most of you who read the blog or have heard me talk know that I’m a little bit of a fraud when it comes to the cooking thing. As in, I barely cook. Don’t get me wrong – I do sometimes, and I’m perfectly capable of following a good recipe. But I usually don’t have much time or patience for it. As a kid growing up in the aforementioned Italian home, cooking was EVERYTHING. My mother was not a gourmet chef, but she made all her food, including sausage from scratch. That was a sight to behold, when she and my grandmother set up the ancient sausage making machine at my grandmother’s big table in her basement and cranked out pounds of the stuff. I remember watching in (slightly disgusted) fascination as my mother fastened the casings onto the end of the machine and fed the meat inside while my grandmother cranked the handle. No wonder I don’t eat meat today.
On a happier note, my family made tons of Italian cookies. Pizelles, anginetti (Italian lemon drop cookies), Italian Christmas cookies, the wandies with all that yummy powdered sugar. Wandie making was a huge deal too. My mother, grandmother and a couple of great-aunts would gather around that same huge table in my grandmother’s basement (on a different day than sausage day) and make wandies. I don’t really remember what went into it, but I remember it was a huge project. Lots of time, dough and confectioner’s sugar. They weren’t my favorite, but the tradition of them always seemed special. Me, I preferred the fudge.
The one thing I did manage to take from my Italian upbringing was a talent for tomato sauce. This is one where I don’t even need a recipe – and it’s different every time. The past two summers, we’ve had a farm share at a lovely local farm. The tomatoes were perfect for sauce making, and there were so many of them that I’ve got frozen containers of it for the long winter days. Even though nowadays I eat gluten-free pasta, that sauce still brings back a lot of memories. My mother would bottle all her tomatoes and have sauce at the ready all the time. Back then, we followed the Italian meal plan: Pasta on Wednesdays and pasta for Sunday dinner. My father and I used to argue over the type of pasta we ate, especially on Sundays. He preferred ziti, while I was a rotini girl. I still have a fondness for those spiral-shaped pastas today.
So even though I’m not the best cook you’ll ever find, I have enough happy food-related memories to get me to the stove every now and then. I even got new cookbooks for Christmas. Not exactly Italian food, but yummy just the same. And a chance to make new foodie-related memories.
Readers, what are you favorite memories of food?